We Help Sacramento’s Vulnerable Communities Get 5-Star Meals

By: Kathy Webster

Kathy Webster TomKat Ranch

When COVID-19 hit, TomKat Ranch shifted our LeftCoast Grassfed beef sales program into a donation program to support emergency food efforts. Since March 2020, we have donated 11,300 pounds of regenerative grass-fed beef – much of it to local food distribution sites. 

In December of 2020, we heard about the Family Meals program that friend and collaborator Chef Patrick Mulvaney (Mulvaney’s B&L) had launched in Sacramento to feed thousands of people in need. Family Meals Sacramento was launched at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to feed thousands of people-in-need. The free, pre-cooked, delicious and healthy meals are made weekly by Sacramento-based chefs and their staff. The program is feeding under-resourced communities and supporting restaurants and their employees, small businesses affected by the pandemic, and local farms that are growing the food.

Inspired by this amazing program, we were excited to help in any way we could. To support the Family Meals program over the holidays, we donated 568 pounds of assorted cuts to Mulvaney and reached out to ranch friends at Richards Grassfed who donated an additional 200 pounds of skirt steak. 

I spoke with Chef Mulvaney recently to find out more about the creative meals he and the team of chefs prepared. Some of the amazing recipes included tongue with Ragu sauce, Scrapple with liver and dirty rice, Kidney pie, and Tuscan salsa verde with New York steaks, and fajitas and green chiles, paprika with creme fraise.

“We knew how to purchase ingredients, prepare food, but we didn’t know how to distribute the food to those that needed it the most. The beef donation helped us be creative, work with other chefs from various cultures to create healthy, delicious meals for those that needed it,” said Mulvaney. 

The meals went to seniors in housing and redevelopment agency apartments thanks to funding from California Governor Newsom’s office and a FEMA program. Other meals went to students and families from the Sacramento City Unified School District and Robla School District, where 25% of students and their families are homeless. The districts enlisted bus drivers to drop off “meal bags” at various bus stops to make it easy for families to get them. 

Through the help of Sacramento Mayor Steinberg’s office, meals were also provided to Sacramento State students living in campus housing as dining services and campus eateries closed for the winter break and left students with few options. [Note: Even before the pandemic hit, nearly half of Sacramento State’s students had experienced food insecurity.]

One important lesson we’ve learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is that resilience can come in many forms. Regenerative agriculture is often focused on environmental resilience, but social resilience is equally important for our food system. We feel a wonderful gratitude for being able to connect with such inspiring leaders like Chef Mulvaney and to do what we can to support our local and extended community during this difficult time.